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Post Info TOPIC: ENVIRONMENTAL news from Niagara Gazette


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ENVIRONMENTAL news from Niagara Gazette


Environmental programs stalled by state fiscal problems

CNHI newspapers
August 30, 2009 07:57 pm

ENVIRONMENT: Some progress, but funding delays for state coasts

Environmental programs stalled by state fiscal problems

Staff Reports
Associated Press

While shellfish restocking, sewage restrictions and new state and federal initiatives promise to help restore coastal waters, some projects are threatened by New Yorks fiscal crisis.

Acoustic monitoring of endangered right whales off Long Island by Cornell scientists ceased in March when state funding stopped. Stalled projects out of the State University at Stony Brook include an ecosystem model for Long Islands Great South Bay and a new commercial fishery observer program.

They stopped paying our invoices, said professor David Conover, director of Stony Brooks Marine Sciences Research Center. At one point those exceeded $1.5 million, he said.

Facing multibillion-dollar deficits, Gov. David Paterson added two additional reviews before spending is approved. State Environmental Protection Fund spending is projected at $180 million this year, the same as last years peak, Budget Division spokesman Matt Anderson said.

The funding issue is the moneys moving slow, said Joel Barkin, spokesman for the state Department of State. We know this. But theres a commitment to fund these programs, and we hope to do it based on the various other priorities in the state as soon as possible.

George Stafford, who heads the Division of Coastal Resources at the Department of State, pointed to progress in demonstration projects in Long Islands Great South Bay and the Sandy Creeks Watershed of Lake Ontario.

There are some indications that the state may be moving in the right direction, said Sarah Chasis, ocean initiatives director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Obviously, theres a lot to be done.

The councils recent report showed 1,610 beach closing and health advisory days in 2008 for New Yorks ocean and Great Lakes beaches, up 4 percent. Rain overflowing sewers was the main culprit. Last summer, a large brown tide appeared in Long Islands Great South Bay, though so far this year far there have been fewer algae blooms.

Nationally, there were 5,400 closings or notices last year.

They affected 1,210 or 32 percent of all monitored beaches, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported. That was about 5 percent of total beach days, both percentages unchanged for the past three years.

Last month, the EPA gave preliminary approval to the states proposal to stop boats from discharging treated waste in Long Islands South Shore Estuary Reserve. EPA spokeswoman Sophia Kelley said final regulations are likely soon. Boaters between Queens and Southampton will have to go to pump-out stations instead.

Even though its treated, its still sewage effluents, Conover said.

Treated inland sewage also needs to be piped farther out to sea where its more diluted, which the state has tentatively planned for Jones Beach State Park, Conover said. Pumping it into nearby bays didnt seem so illogical decades ago, but theres a lot more people here now, he said.

The Obama administration has established an Ocean Policy Task Force to develop an ecosystem-based approach that addresses conservation, economic activity, user conflict and sustainable use, according to the June 12 presidential memo. A series of hearings has begun.

A week earlier, New York agreed with four other states to jointly address coastal issues, including habitats and water quality. In December, New York City released a plan for managing storm water runoff.

In the Great South Bay, between Long Island and Fire Island, the Nature Conservancy has reported success repopulating clam beds on 13,000 underwater acres. The depleted bay once provided half the clams eaten in the U.S. With $1 million from Suffolk County, plus some federal and private funding, the conservancy has stocked more than 3 million adult clams in its no-fishing sanctuaries. The conservancy also is repopulating scallops off its Shelter Island reserve.

Clam survival rates have ranged from 40 percent to 90 percent, depending on location and predators. They began reproducing last year.

We started to see little tiny baby clams for the first time, said Wayne Grothe, a former bayman heading the project. Weve been putting clams in there for five years. We probably hit critical mass where there were enough clams to spawn all these little clams.

In the Lake Ontario watershed, about 40 miles of stream banks have been restored, most on New York farmland, Stafford said.

This summer has seen fewer fish die-offs from a deadly virus and botulism than the Great Lakes saw in 2007 and 2008, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Sean Mahar, of Audubon New York, said the biggest advance is President Obamas new plan to restore the Great Lakes, requesting $475 million in the 2010 federal budget to clean up contaminated river bottoms, restore wildlife habitat, prevent runoff and erosion and battle invasive species



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August 26, 2009 03:25 pm

TOWN OF NIAGARA: Reservoir park works coming

From staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Officials from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the New York Power Authority are addressing local concerns raised about the current state of Reservoir State Park, according to Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte.

The park, located on Route 31 in the Town of Niagara, is operated by the state parks and on property owned by NYPA.

In 2007 NYPA received a new operating license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the Niagara Power Project, requiring NYPA to submit a recreation plan for improvements to existing facilities within the park. NYPA and the office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation are working together to finalize the plans, but changes within the design team temporarily delayed finalization, DelMonte said.

Officials at Parks and Recreation and NYPA have indicated that the design team is aiming to complete a review of the design concept by the end of next month. The plan should be finalized in the spring of 2010.

Tag: radioactive hotspots, EG&G, aerial radiation and ground based survey, nebulous "slag"

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